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Homemade Beef and Noodles (Cristen Clark/Special to Agweek)

Food hits all the feels: Homemade Beef and Noodles

One day I received a compliment for food I had prepared. It had taken quite a bit of time to create a recipe from scratch, and it was more worth it than anything I'd known. More worth it than any blue or purple ribbon or silly giant-sized check at a cooking contest. I may as well have fallen on the floor...

Homemade Beef and Noodles is a popular recipe in most any farmhouse kitchen in the Midwest. Growing up on a cow-calf and row crop farm in central Iowa with a dad who dislikes chicken, let's say it was a popular Sunday night meal. We've tried to keep the Sunday tradition alive.

Sharing food together is wildly special to me. I've always had a soft spot for making decent food for my dad, as both my mom and his mom are and were excellent cooks.

This particular Sunday during harvest (which was cold and drizzly, so we had the day off), I embarked on creating a memorable meal. I wanted to hit a grand slam with this Beef and Noodles recipe. I'm the type of cook who never makes anything the same way twice. I eyeball. I add a pinch of that and a dash of that. Things always turn out quite similar, and I'm fine with that, but this happens to be a recipe I needed to share because of one simple compliment I received.

I made the egg noodles from scratch, which happens to be the one cooking activity I completed with my Grandma Madeline before she died. I slow cooked the beef roast, made a double sized batch of gravy and five whole pounds of mashed potatoes. Anyone who gets a rain-day in the whirlwind of harvest knows the last thing you really need to be doing is rolling out noodles by hand.

When everyone sat down to dinner that evening, Dad sat closest to the food. He always gives plenty of compliments on anything I make. He's a man of few words, but I swear I could burn a store-bought value pizza and he would say he liked it. But as he sat down to a plate of Beef and Noodles this particular night, he was more quiet than usual. He managed to have at least two-going-on-three helpings and as much gravy as he could spoon on without looking greedy.

"Oh Sis. Wow."

I knew he liked it judging from the licked-clean plate he turned in and figured he'd had a long day fueling, greasing and calculating for the next fields of soybeans and corn we'd be picking as it dried up the coming week. The evening wrapped up, and as he left, he quietly said something again about how good the food was, in a thoughtful, careful way.

It wasn't until the next day that I realized why he'd been so quiet. We again were rained out from cutting soybeans so we headed to town for a little coffee and a donut to share. On the way there he said something to me I'll never forget: "Wow Sis, that Beef and Noodles was so good. It reminded me of my mom's. She used to do that on Sunday nights."

That's it. Stick a fork in me, I'm done. Tipped over. Signed off. I'm officially bowing out. I will remember the truck, what we were wearing, the soybean chaff on the dashboard, how dismal it looked outside and the brick house we passed when he said "it."

I need no more compliments on anything I make in my entire lifetime. I nailed the food well enough to dig right into the memory bank of a quiet, stoic, rough and tough farmer. It may not sound like much to you, but it is everything to me.

I did it. Now the only thing that's left is to write the recipe — my version — for you. I hope you can make this for the people you care about, on the upcoming cold, drizzly day during harvest that you may have "off."

You'd be hard pressed to meet a soul on this Earth that has no memory of a special meal with family. Food memories are a cornerstone in life, and during these tumultuous times that people around the world and right here at home have been facing, gathering around a dinner table is about the best thing to do.

Rodger's Favorite Homemade Beef and Noodles

Makes 6-8 servings

For the noodles:

2 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

3 eggs (add one yolk if eggs are on smaller side)

1 large pinch salt

2 tablespoons butter

½ teaspoon garlic salt

Make a well with flour, whisk in eggs with a fork, grabbing more flour until well mixed. (alternatively use food processor, pulsing until a ball forms.) Knead 3 minutes by hand. Cover with plastic, let rest 30 minutes. Roll out paper thin and cut into strips of desired size. Lay on well-floured tea towels to dry all day, turning over once if possible. When ready to serve, drop in boiling water, boil 3-4 minutes. Remove to a large bowl, toss with 2 tablespoons of butter and ½ teaspoon garlic salt.

For the beef roast:

1- 3 pound beef chuck roast

2 teaspoons Lawry's seasoned salt

½ teaspoon steak seasoning (or salt/pepper)

2 bay leaves

2 cups beef or chicken stock

3 tablespoons butter

Add roast, sprinkle seasoned salt and steak seasoning over roast evenly. Add bay leaves, chicken stock and butter. Slow cook on low for 7-8 hours or until tender. Remove roast. Strain juices. Skim fat and add to a skillet over medium heat for gravy preparation.

For the gravy:

4 tablespoons fat drippings reserved from cooking beef roast.

4 tablespoons butter

6 tablespoons flour, sifted

4 cups beef or chicken stock

To skillet over medium heat, add skimmed beef drippings, add butter, whisk well. Add flour, whisk well and cook one minute. Add stock, bring to a boil. Reduce to simmering until gravy has thickened.

Mashed potatoes

One 5 pound bag Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled, boiled, drained

6 tablespoons butter

8 oz. chive-flavored sour cream

½ cup milk

1 ½ teaspoons Lawry's seasoned salt

½ to 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

While hot, beat potatoes until desired consistency. Add butter, sour cream, milk, seasoned salt and pepper. Fold in gently, don't overmix. Hold warm until serving. Garnish with fresh chives, if desired.

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